Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Texas Attorney Gets|17 Years in Prison

HOUSTON (CN) - A Texas attorney who helped a convicted money launderer bilk 500 investors in stock and real estate scams was sentenced Monday to 17 years in federal prison.

Patrick Lanier, 67, of Austin, also was ordered to pay $37 million in restitution.

Lanier went to Mexico to help his fugitive client Harris "Butch" Ballow structure fraudulent stock sales in several companies and real estate deals that defrauded investors of millions of dollars, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Ballow went on the lam in 2004 after pleading guilty to money laundering in Houston Federal Court. He had been in federal custody for a year without bond. He fled after he agreed to cooperate with an SEC investigation and was released on a $100,000 bond.

Ballow was arrested in Puerto Vallarta on July 13, 2010, and extradited to the United States on April 8, 2011. He was sentenced to 10 years for money laundering and ordered to pay $10 million in restitution, prosecutors said.

Ballow adopted five aliases in Mexico that he used to acquire a controlling interest in four companies. With Lanier's assistance, prosecutors said during Lanier's trial, Ballow issued bogus data to inflate the companies' stock prices and sold stakes in real estate developments that never were built.

A jury convicted Lanier in February 2014 of 13 counts of wire fraud and two counts of helping Ballow evade arrest.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal sentenced him Monday'.

" At the hearing, the judge noted the large number of victims - more than 500 - and acknowledged that one victim reported her husband committed suicide as a result of this offense," U.S. Attorney Ken Magidson said in a statement.

Four other men involved in Ballow's scams have pleaded guilty to federal charges. Another co-defendant was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for money laundering.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.